What will a puppy do if its owner both ignores it and showers affection on a lifelike stuffed dog? Push its way between its owner and the toy, raise its tail, push its owner, bite at the toy, and even whine and bark. Whether that amounts to jealousy in the way that humans experience it is up for debate, but scientists studying 36 6-month-old puppies videotaped individually found that the puppies responded in ways that suggest at the very least a “primordial” jealousy also seen in a similar study conducted on human babies, they write at PLoS One. As the New York Times notes, this generally confirms what any dog owner would say, but the question is whether the jealousies are comparable. The researchers think yes, but not everyone is convinced.
“What can be shown is that dogs seem to want an owner’s attention when there is attention being given out,” the author of Inside of a Dog tells the Times. “This study confirms that.”
The dogs did not, however, push for an owner’s attention when it was being directed at a children’s book or plastic jack-o’-lantern pail, reports USA Today. The researchers conclude that the dogs were experiencing some form of jealousy that does not belong solely to the human psyche, one that may stem from early competition for a caregiver’s attention to secure important resources such as food and affection, reports HealthDay via US News & World Report. (Check out how dogs are able to tell if you’re happy.)
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